Readers' Favorite

April 30, 2014

Jinx Schwartz: Plotter? Pantser? or Hipster/Googlester?

Some writers outline.
Some have a beginning and end in mind, then outline as they go.
Many have the plot, chapter by chapter, all worked out.
There are as many writing habits as there are writers.
Me? I'm a hipster/Googlester.

Keeping in mind that I am writing the sixth book in a series, I'm a step ahead with my main character, Hetta Coffey, and her sidekick, Jan. All I have to do is:
1. Figure out where Hetta is
2. Why she's there
3. What the problem(s) seems to be
4. What the problem(s) really is
5. How Hetta's going to deal with it (them).
6. Do it all without boring the living hell out of the reader!

Hetta Coffey Boxed Set
Keeping a series fresh, book after book, is a problem in itself. Being a big fan of series, I've been a disgruntled reader on occasion, and the last thing I was to do is disgruntle my readers.

Buy Hetta Coffey Boxed Set at Amazon

And therein lies the problem. I can plot and plan to my heart's content, but then, thank goodness, Hetta takes over, sends me into Google research, and then hip-bumps me onto a whole new path.

I admit to being a research junkie, and it has been a road to adventure for Hetta's antics.

For example, in Just Deserts,  Hetta lands a job at a mine on the Arizona/Mexico border , and I was all set with where the story was going. Great. But then, while running off the rails during research (which I'm prone to do) I found a blurb in the news reporting Jihadist camps in Mexico! Say what? Who knew some of the indigenous Indians down south in Chiapas were being recruited? Heck, who knew there were even radical Muslims in Mexico? So, I was off on another trail, because if anyone on the planet can unearth—and become embroiled in—a terrorist plot, it is Hetta.

The problem with being a Googlester is, like Facebook, Google is a giant, time-sucking vortex that I happen to find way to irresistible.

Conventional wisdom says, WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.  Okay, at my age (don't ask!)  I think I know a lot, but is what I know interesting to others? Probably not. Can I use my own experiences as a launch pad for books that grab and hold a readers attention? Heck, yeah.

I imagine most books begin with authors asking themselves, "What if?"

"What if a young man who finds out he's adopted, and has magical powers?"

"What if, during the civil war, a beautiful young woman falls in love with the wrong man?"

"What if a woman is pushing forty, looking for love in all the wrong places, and buys a yacht as a man-trap." Bingo!

About the Author:

Jinx Schwartz is the author of the award-winning Hetta Coffey series.
JUST ADD WATER, first in the series, introduces Hetta, a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she's not afraid to use it. JUST ADD SALT, JUST ADD TROUBLE, JUST DESERTS,and JUST THE PITS follow her into hot Mexican water. JUST NEEDS KILLIN' is scheduled for July 2014 release.
Her other books: The Texicans (Texas 1806-1836 Historical Western), Land of Mountains, a YA/TWEEN set in Haiti in the 1950's, and Troubled Sea, a thriller in Mexico's Sea of Cortez.
Jinx spends equal time in Arizona and Mexico.
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  1. I can relate. I'm forever discovering new information that changes the direction of the plot. But I always have the beginning and the end of the story. Then I have to figure out how to get there. And I actually enjoy writing myself into a corner and getting myself out. But no cheating the reader! That's a big no-no. Glad you feel the same.

    1. I once was reading a Nelson DeMille where he was writing himself into a corner. I was nearing the end and wondered how he was gonna get himself out of it. He admitted in the afterword that his son-in-law came up with the answer.

  2. Loved the post--always a challenge. And with my Rocky Bluff books--most everything happens in Rocky Bluff so I have to figure out new stuff to happen to the characters as well as new crimes.

    1. And you do it so well, Marilyn! Thanks for the comment.

  3. Donna, thanks for hosting me today! jinx

  4. It's great that you have a handle on how to keep your series fresh. I wish I liked research, because it would make writing a lot easier!

  5. I'm not sure about easier, Morgan, because I can spend hours derailed! Thanks for the comment!

  6. Googlester I can live with. But if you are a Wiki-pedia lover, our online friendship is over before it begins :-)

    1. What? You don't believe Wiki is all true? I'm shocked! :-)
      BTW, JUST ADD WATER is FREE May 1-5 on Amazon. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Having been out of action (more or less) for the past two days, I just today saw your post on allmysterynewsletter announcing your blog post here, Jinx. First may I say that I'm a huge fan of your books and love both your characters and your plots. And like you, I can get totally immersed in research on Google and spend way too much time researching rather than writing. But back to allmysterynewsletter. In your announcement you said: "Can you spot the error in my blog that drives me nuts... Leave a comment and nail the writer!" Using my editor's eye, I actually found four errors in your post, but I figured the one you were referring to was this: "What if, during the civil war, a beautiful young woman falls in love with the wrong man?" Because you're a U.S. citizen, I can almost guarantee you're speaking of our American Civil War. Because it's a specific event in history, it's always capitalized. Those two words are not capitalized when they're not referring to a specific event, like in the sentence, "The bloodiest war for any nation is a civil war." So did I catch your error? Don't worry; we all make mistakes with grammar:) And just so you know, I just downloaded JUST ADD WATER. Can't wait to read it. :)

    1. What an eagle eye you have! I meant to write a civil mistake, for sure. My intentional error was using to instead of too.
      Hope you enjoy Just Add Water, and feel free to let me know if you see anything wrong. It has been through countless editors, but those &*^%$ boo-boos still get through. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Fun post, Jinx! I have one of your books on my TBR stack and can't wait to get to it. For me, all I have to do is blink and my plot takes a new direction. : )
    Marja McGraw

  9. So, that makes you a blinkster? Thanks for your comment.